OXFORD – The Roxboro Community School volleyball team kept its vision of winning the Triangle North Conference in sight with a 3-1 (22-25, 27-25, 25-23, 25-11) victory at Oxford Prep last Wednesday night.
With the win, RCS (11-4 overall, 5-1 TNAC) sits comfortably in second place, two games in front of both Oxford Prep and Vance Charter. The Bulldogs will face TNAC front runner Eno River Academy Monday at home with a share of the conference lead on the line. Eno River (17-0, 9-0) can clinch the regular season league title and the conference’s top seed for the playoffs with a victory Monday at RCS. Game time is set for 6 p.m.
The Bobcats needed five sets to hold off RCS when the teams met Sept. 9 in Hillsborough.
Things didn’t start out so great for the Bulldogs in Wednesday’s matchup in Oxford.
RCS dropped the first set against Oxford Prep but roared back to take the next three to claim a stranglehold on second in the conference and complete the season sweep against the Griffins.
“I think that it meant a lot to us in taking the weight off our shoulders, being able to continue knowing we can keep our hold on second place,” Bulldogs (9-4, 5-1) head coach Hayden Rigsbee said of the win. “We knew Oxford Prep was going to be a tough, scrappy team. I knew if everybody could focus on what their role was, whether it was hitting the ball to open spots on the court or rolling their blocks, everyone could give 110 percent. We were really focused on that last night.”
After a back-and-forth opening set, which ended with Delaney Lowery slamming down one of her team-high 12 kills for Oxford Prep (10-6, 3-3), Rigsbee called her girls to the bench.
The Griffins raced out to an 8-3 lead behind the play of Lowery (three kills, one ace) and Kadence Woolief (one kill).
“We definitely started off slow,” Rigsbee said. “We’ve really been trying to work on that. Although we started the first set slow, we actually got to a point where we were willing to put in more work and play to our potential. We stopped playing down and played more like us – putting the ball down to earn our points, instead of waiting for Oxford Prep to make mistakes.”
RCS countered that early spurt, holding three separate one-point leads (18-17, 19-18, 20-19).
That fight was a snippet of the team that won four of its first five games in September, including a three-set sweep of a tough Vance Charter squad two days earlier.
“The biggest thing I said to them was reminding them that, with this team, the talent is there,” Rigsbee said. “It’s not just the talent of a few people, I have a talented team as a whole. That talent is best used and shows when everybody’s blocking, playing defense and willing to attack the ball, even our defensive specialist (CeCe Fitzgerald) and libero (Delayna Welch). Everybody’s on board with the same goal – playing point by point, ball by ball and always sliding out. When you look back, trying to get one percent better every day is an accomplishment in the big picture. That’s the mentality we need to have moving forward.”
That set break appeared to be just what RCS needed, as it started the second on a three-point swing and never trailed again in the set.
The Bulldogs turned a 6-3 lead into 13-3 cushion, after a pair of Kinzy Rowney kills and another from her older sister, Kaedyn. Oxford Prep battled all the way back and tied the game at 25 late in the set, only for two errors to give RCS the win.
Set three looked almost identical – a fast Bulldog start, then a late Griffin push.
Hogan served up a pair of aces, while Adkins and Peyton Hogan added a kill each.
Lowery helped the hosts win the next four points, then RCS played clean volleyball the rest of the set and mixed up its attack. Kills from Adkins, Kinzy Rowney, Peyton Hogan and Kynlee Brooks helped the Bulldogs build multiple four-point leads.
Oxford Prep put a scare into RCS, running to a 21-19 advantage on the strength of two Lowery aces.
The Bulldogs then closed the momentum-shifting third set on a 6-2 run, thanks to a kill/block each from Kaedyn Rowney, two Kinzy Rowney kills, then a Brooks kill to end it.
RCS never trailed again.
“Kynlee stepped up last night with some of her kills,” Rigsbee said. “It can be challenging for middles – to go pin, get off a block, transition then call back for an attack. I think Kynlee put in more effort last night to see the results of the kills she was getting. She transitioned hard, came back and was present for blocking.”
Wednesday’s four-set win was one of the Bulldogs’ best games of the season on the attack, as Adkins (11), Peyton Hogan (16) and Kinzy Rowney (12) all reached the 10-kill mark.
The 12 kills set a new season-high for Rowney.
“Kinzy has been working on her attack,” Rigsbee said. “I think the work she put in showed last night, when she was able to hit a lot of line balls and get a lot of kills. She knows where the best spot is to attack the ball. She was getting that setter-hitter connection with Jenna tonight.”
Dogs make quick work of Jags
RCS showed no signs of fatigue on Friday night, sweeping River Mill in a 25-3, 25-15, 25-14 non-conference matchup.
Neither team had stats available for the contest.
RCS faced Voyager Academy Wednesday in Durham, but results were not available at press time.
The Vikings (4-5, 0-4) took a set from the Bulldogs on Sept. 7.
38 aces lead RCS in Monday sweep
The Bulldogs were on their service game Monday night, serving up 38 aces in a 25-4, 25-6, 25-6 road thumping of Excelsior Classical Academy.
Peyton Hogan anchored the deadly service game with a team-high 10. Fitzgerald added eight, Jenna Hogan contributed seven, Madison Taylor recorded four, Savannah Adkins served up three, Delayna Welch chipped in two, while Brooks, Rowney, Sydney Adkins and Mary Quinn Hurdle added one each.
Hurdle, Brooks, Rowney and Peyton Hogan each finished with a block. Jenna Hogan paced the RCS (11-4) attack with 13 assists, while Hurdle and Peyton Hogan tied for the team lead with four kills each.
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